Past events
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On the occasion of the Humboldt Forum’s current special exhibition, in_finite. Living with Death (until 26 November 2023), the journalist and death counsellor Lydia Heller and the archaeologist Pablo Nina visit selected rooms and exhibits in the permanent exhibitions of the Humboldt Forum Berlin. And precisely the ones that say something about how people dealt with death at different times, in different regions of this world. They explore questions such as: What did ritual sacrifice mean to the Aztecs? How does the knowledge of our own mortality influence our lives? Or, why is it hard for us to take species extinction personally?

Together with scientists, artists and activists, Lydia and Pablo discuss various facets of the theme of the special exhibition, in_finite. Living with Death, and whet your appetite for more.

Episode 1

Ancestors, Goddesses and Heroes – Living with Death in different cultures

How does knowledge of our own mortality influence our lives? Lydia Heller (journalist), Henriette Lavaulx-Vrécourt (ethnologist), Maria Ellendorff (cultural anthropologist) and David Blankenstein (art historian) discuss the topic using the example of reliquary containers on display in the temporary exhibition area, Ancestors, Goddesses and Heroes: The Chinese figure Ushnishavijaya, the reliquary Byeri from Cameroon, a Tibetan votive stupa and the chinese figure Mahamayuri.

Moderation: Lydia Heller, Journalist and death counsellor, Berlin

Guests: David Blankenstein, art historian and project lead of the special exhibition in_finite. Living with Death, Humboldt Forum, Berlin; Maria Ellendorff, cultural anthropologist and deputy curator for the West Africa Collection, Ethnologisches Museum Berlin; Henriette Lavaulx-Vrécourt, ethnologist and curator for East- and North-Asian Collections, Ethnologisches Museum Berlin

Episode 2

Quauhxicalli – an Aztec sacrificial vessel

Trigger warning: This episode is about human sacrifices.

How did the Aztecs integrate death in life? And how did they think about death and life around 500/600 years ago? Lydia Heller (journalist), Claudine Hartau (ancient Americanist) and Ute Schüren (ancient Americanist) discuss, taking the example of a special item, the Quauhxicalli (sacrificial or eagle vessel) from the Mesoamerican collection of the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin.

Moderation: Lydia Heller, Journalist and death counsellor, Berlin

Guests: Claudine Hartau, Ancient American Studies, Hamburg; Ute Schüren, Ancient American Studies and curator of the Department of American Archeology, Mesoamerica, Ethnologisches Museum Berlin


Episode 3

Corals – or how do we deal with the sixth mass extinction?

How do we deal with death? When this question is asked, we generally think of mourning or funerals, but rarely of the sixth mass extinction. Although species extinction affects us all, we find it difficult to consider this kind of death and dying as our business. Why? And does it have consequences for how we deal with this issue? Lydia Heller, journalist, Elisabetta Corrà, environmental journalist and activist, and Carsten Lüter, evolutionary biologist and curator at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, take a closer look at these questions in the exhibition After Nature of the Humboldt University in Berlin.

Moderation: Lydia Heller, Journalist and death counsellor, Berlin

Guests: Elisabetta Corrà, environmental journalist and activist, Italy; Carsten Lüter, evolutionary biologist und curator, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin


Selected exhibits from Death_Matters. Living with Death in Humboldt Forum


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